Skill Booster

Cut the C.R.A.P.

Are your business stories full of C.R.A.P.?

That stands for Corporate Rhetoric And Pomposity.

And if you’re communicating C.R.A.P. (Corporate Rhetoric And Pomposity), you’re exposing yourself to RISK. Risk that your audience will:

đź’© Misunderstand you

đź’© Ignore you

đź’© Roll their eyes and make fun of you behind your back

That is NOT what you want.

So, let’s learn to identify and eliminate C.R.A.P.

In this video lesson you’ll discover:

  • 4 ways to tune your C.R.A.P.-o-meter so you can spot this kind of communication when it happens
  • 4 strategies to reimagine that C.R.A.P. and say what you really mean

C.R.A.P. is a language we adopt in the workplace. It’s not how we speak in the real world of teachable moments, crises and emergencies, and competitive situations. In daily life, when those situations occur, we are incredibly concise and plainspoken.


Tune your C.R.A.P.-o-meter.

Keep an eye and ear out for these 4 signals that a message contains C.R.A.P.

1. Zombie words

These big, vague, important-sounding words are likely standing in for a much simpler, more descriptive explanation. “Integrated solutions” is one of our love-to-hate favorites. What does it really mean? What if, instead, you talked about “integrating” or—better yet—”solving”?

Other common zombies are optimization, globalization, digitization, modernization, socialization … Notice the suffixes? That’s a major C.R.A.P. clue. Watch for it!

2. Eye rolls

Beware of any word or phrase that may prompt an “Ugh I hope I never hear that again” response.

Just think of all the quarterly town hall meetings you’ve endured, listening to executives rattle off their pet phrases. “Low-hanging fruit.” “Win-win.” “Paradigm shift.” “Value-added.” “Let’s unpack that.”

Enough already. If eyes will roll, find a better way to say it.

3. Double takes

As a communicator or storyteller, your mission is to be so clear and understandable that your audience gets your message in an instant. You don’t want them struggling to interpret a convoluted or confusing message.

So, do the hard work up front. Simplify and clarify your message. Make it easy for your target reader or listener to say, “YES! I see!”

4. The way we always say it

In this age where anyone can broadcast a message and everyone is distracted, you need to stand out. That means finding new ways to say what you’ve been saying all along—and creating new stories to catch and hold your audience’s attention.

Consistency is one thing. Boring the brains out of your audience is another. Find new ways to express yourself.

Once you're tuned into the C.R.A.P., change it!

Here are 4 strategies that will help you reimagine your message and give it greater power. Click each item to reveal the how-to.

Are you hiding behind C.R.A.P. words because you don’t fully understand your subject matter? Um, don’t do that. Be the person who has the courage to ask questions and become so well-versed in your topic that you can explain it not just oneway, but several.

Why? Because your audience likely has layers, and each group may need a slightly different story. To tweak effectively, you need to be confident that you know your stuff.

The more active your message, the better. When you notice a noun like “recommendation” or “creation” or “decision,” consider converting that stationary word into something that moves: “recommend,” “create,” “decide.”

Tell stories where action happens. Use verbs more than nouns. (For more on this topic, here’s another Skill Booster.)

Be a brutal editor. If a word or phrase isn’t absolutely necessary, take it out.

Especially scrutinize words that describe what you sell. You may be in the business of “robust analytics.” But for your customer, that’s just a means to an end. Instead of talking about your analytics, focus on the results your customers can expect. Outcomes are more interesting and persuasive than product labels and features.

When puzzling over a C.R.A.P. statement and how to change it, use these 2 questions to help you translate:

  • What am I trying to say?
  • What do I really mean?

If necessary, repeat these questions several times, answering over and over until you land on a set of words that say what you mean in a way that will make sense to your target audience.

Cutting C.R.A.P. can be a team sport.

When you encounter a word a phrase that seems like C.R.A.P., share it. Tell your teammates. Tell us at Story Mode. Let’s get many minds working together on the translation!